Trial begins for two suspects in FUMC daycare child abuse case

Trial got underway Monday in the case against two of the four women charged in connection with alleged child abuse at the First United Methodist Church daycare.

Circuit Judge John Atkins and attorneys for former daycare employees Nina Morgan and Allison Simpson asked questions of potential jurors and heard other reasons some were not able to serve. Following a lengthy selection process, a final jury was seated in the afternoon.

Special prosecutor Blake Chambers began opening statements in trial, saying the jury will see multiple videos throughout trial that will show the undeniable truth that each count against Simpson and Morgan was appropriate and earned.

Simpson is indicted on 30 counts of criminal child abuse. All 30 counts are alleged to have happened between December 19 of 2018 and January 18 of 2019. Eleven of the counts are against the same infant and a total of eight children are listed as victims in all of the allegations.

Nina Morgan is indicted for two counts of criminal child abuse.

Public defender Eric Bearden, who represents Simpson, says what the jury will not see is any evidence of physical injuries caused by either suspect.

Defense attorney Michael Thompson, representing Morgan, says the Commonwealth is attempting to make his client’s actions out to be much worse than they were.

Witness testimony began in the afternoon, with HPD Detective Michael Luckingham taking the stand and detailing his involvement in the investigation that led to the indictments against the four suspects.

Indictments against the two suspects not on trial this week—former daycare director Abby Leach and former pastor Paige Williams—allege they “breached their legal duty to protect the minor children by failing to prevent Simpson and Morgan from intentionally abusing children.” In each count, the victim is described as being under the age of 13 months old.

Trial is set to continue Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.